Aviation emissions

Australia’s State Action Plan – International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Assembly Resolution A37-19 on Climate Change

Australia is implementing a State Action Plan on managing Australia's aviation carbon emissions (submitted to ICAO in 2022) PDF: 824 KB. The Action Plan details a strategy for improvements and efficiencies in aviation environment practices in Australia, such as:

Air Traffic Management

Australia's air navigation service provider, Airservices Australia, has implemented a range of measures to improve fuel efficiency such as flexible flight tracks, improved air traffic control sequencing, continuous descent approaches and better management of aircraft on the ground. Airservices Australia’s Environmental and Sustainability Strategy includes a target of reducing CO2 emissions per flight by an average of 10 per cent by 2030.


Australian airlines are introducing newer, more fuel efficient aircraft into their fleets. Airlines will continue to refine their operational procedures to minimise fuel use, including reduction in weight of cabin items and reduction of engine ground running time. Australia’s international passenger airlines have committed to net zero emissions by 2050. Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Australia have also introduced voluntary carbon offset schemes which enable passengers to purchase offsets for their flights.


Australia's airports are putting in place a range of measures to manage their contribution to climate change issues. In particular, initiatives include green star rated commercial developments on airports, energy and water audits, recycling and creation of biodiversity zones. Australia’s major gateways participate in the Airports Council International (ACI) Airport Carbon Accreditation Scheme (ACA). The ACI ACA Scheme is an international, voluntary and industry-recognised certification scheme, designed to assess and recognise the efforts of participating airports to map, manage and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. 

International and Domestic Aviation Emissions

Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), domestic and international aviation are treated separately. Domestic aviation emissions are counted as part of country targets while international aviation emissions are dealt with separately as part of Australia’s participation in ICAO.

International Aviation Emissions

The 41st ICAO Assembly adopted a long-term aspirational goal (LTAG) for international aviation of net zero carbon emissions by 2050 in line with the UNFCCC Paris Agreement’s temperature goal. Australia along with global partners supported this historic ambition that reinforces the importance of actively addressing climate change in international aviation.

To achieve the LTAG and to promote sustainable growth of international aviation, ICAO is seeking to develop and adopt actions which can be categorised within a basket of measures that includes:

  • aircraft technology improvements;
  • operational improvements;
  • sustainable aviation fuels; and
  • a market-based measure

Australia is actively participating in the ongoing development and implementation of these measures and is working with industry to incorporate these efficiencies into the Australian aviation industry.

Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA)

The CORSIA is the market-based measure that was adopted by ICAO in 2016 to cap carbon emissions from international aviation at a global baseline from 2020.

The CORSIA commenced on 1 January 2019 and will be implemented in several phases. Australia has been a participant since the CORSIA’s inception and continues to contribute to the development of the CORSIA through active membership in ICAO’s Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection and its working groups.

Airline offsetting requirements under the CORSIA are voluntary from 2021 – 2026, with mandatory offsetting requirements commencing from 2027 for most nations. From 2023, 115 ICAO Member States will be volunteering to participate in the offset requirements of the scheme. Further information on the CORSIA can be found at the ICAO website.

Domestic Aviation Emissions

Domestic aviation emissions are monitored through the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting scheme and are addressed by the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water through several mechanisms including:

  • The Emissions Reduction Fund, a voluntary scheme that aims to provide incentives for a range of organisations and individuals to adopt new practices and technologies to reduce their emissions.
  • The Safeguard Mechanism, a framework for Australia’s largest emitters to measure, report and manage their emissions. It does this by encouraging large facilities, whose net emissions exceed the safeguard threshold, to keep their emissions at or below emissions baselines.